How Old are Baobab Trees?

Baobab trees are very old. But, just how old? When you talk with African villagers who live around these trees, the trees have been there for their generation, their parents' generation, and it has been passed down that these trees have been there for a very, very long time. Stories and oral traditions tell us that many of these baobab trees are ancient and have long histories, outliving previous generations.

However, more recently, research by a team of scientists has begun and some findings have come on genus Adansonia, investigating large individuals of the most widespread Malagasy species. The research also intends to identify the oldest baobabs of Madagascar. What an exciting topic for us as we learn more about these incredible, ancient trees!

Some conclusions up front are that they "found that all large African baobabs are multi-stemmed and exhibit preferentially ring-shaped structures; the oldest dated specimens were found to be between 1,000 and 2,000 years old."

Fig 1. Map of Madagascar, showing the Toliara province (in yellow) and the position of the Tsimanampetsotse National Park (marked by the red arrow).

We would like to introduce you to the oldest Baobab tree of the group: The”Grandmother” (La grand-mère).  Grandmother baobab lives at an altitude of 36 m and has a height of 7.47 m with a circumference at breast height (cbh) of 9.67 m. Wow! Maybe we should call her the matriarch Baobab of the area. The researchers observe what they call "various sized bulbuous formations" on the trunk of Grandmother, which looks strange yet is so unique.


Fig 2. General view of the old Grandmother.

Through radio carbon dating, Grandmother is estimated to be 1,070 years old as of 2014. Not all baobab trees live to be that old; however, for Grandmother, what an incredible feat to survive so long.

Baobab has so many stories to tell, and we are honored to be bringing the world a little closer to the precious fruit of these magnificent trees. Nature is beautiful.

 

 

Source: "Searching for the Oldest Baobab of Madagascar: Radiocarbon Investigation of Large Adansonia rubrostipa Trees." Authors: Adrian Patrut, Karl F. von Reden, Pascal Danthu, Jean-Michel Leong, Pock-Tsy, Roxana T. Patrut, Daniel A. Lowy. Published 2015.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0121170.g001

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0121170.g002




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